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Fimmvörðuháls Trail in Iceland

Updated: May 21

The Fimmvörðuháls Trail, weaving through some of Iceland's most awe-inspiring landscapes, offers hikers a unique blend of natural beauty and challenging terrain. From the iconic Skógafoss waterfall to the dramatic pass between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers, this trail is both rewarding and demanding.

This guide will provide you with all the information you need to tackle this hike, including tips, logistics, and a detailed walkthrough.

Fimmvorduhals trail

Overview of the Fimmvörðuháls Trail

The Fimmvörðuháls hike is one of Iceland's most famous trails, spanning approximately 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) between Skógar and Thórsmörk. The trail climbs over 1,000 meters (about 3,300 feet), offering hikers panoramic views of glaciers, volcanoes, and lush valleys. This trail is known for its beauty and the sense of adventure it offers, passing through the area where new volcanic earth was created in the 2010 eruptions.

Detailed Breakdown of What to Expect Along the Fimmvörðuháls Trail

Skógafoss Waterfall

The hike begins at the mighty Skógafoss, one of the most iconic and majestic waterfalls in Iceland. This waterfall, which is 60 meters (197 feet) high and 25 meters (82 feet) wide, marks a dramatic start to the trail. Hikers can climb up a steep staircase right next to the waterfall, which consists of about 370 steps.

This initial climb is strenuous but rewards hikers with breathtaking views from the top, overlooking the waterfall and the surrounding landscape. The sound of the water plunging down and the potential for rainbows in the mist create a magical atmosphere for starting the hike.

Skógafoss Waterfall

Waterfall Way

After ascending beside Skógafoss, the trail transitions into what is often referred to as "Waterfall Way." This segment follows the course of the Skógá River upstream and features a series of 26 smaller but incredibly scenic waterfalls. Each waterfall has its own unique shape and character, ranging from narrow cascades to wide, thunderous drops.

The path along Waterfall Way is lush and green, contrasting with the rushing blue waters of the river. The trail here is mostly rocky and can be slippery when wet, requiring careful footing. The constant presence of waterfalls makes this part of the hike exceptionally picturesque and a favorite among photographers.

Mountain Pass and Glaciers

As the trail continues, it gradually leaves the river behind and the terrain becomes more rugged and barren. You'll begin a significant ascent towards the Fimmvörðuháls pass, the saddle between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers. This segment of the hike is more exposed and can be quite challenging, with steep climbs and rough paths. As you reach higher elevations, the landscape opens up to reveal expansive views of the surrounding glaciers.

These ice caps are striking, with their vast fields of snow and ice. The area is also notable for its volcanic features, especially the new lava fields and volcanic craters created during the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull. This part of the hike offers a dramatic and stark beauty, showcasing the powerful forces of nature that shape Iceland's landscape.

Fimmvörðuháls pass

Descent into Thórsmörk

The final leg of the Fimmvörðuháls hike is the descent into Thórsmörk, a lush valley that seems like a world away from the high mountain pass. Thórsmörk, named after the Norse god Thor, is known for its rich vegetation, including birchwoods, ferns, and moss-covered rocks.

The trail down into the valley can be steep and challenging, but is incredibly rewarding. The landscape softens, and the greenery becomes more abundant as you descend. You'll navigate through varying terrain, including rocky paths, tundra-like stretches, and possibly snowfields if early in the season. The views of the valley are spectacular, with its vibrant colors and rugged mountain borders. Entering Thórsmörk marks the end of the challenging hike but also the beginning of potential further explorations in one of Iceland's most enchanting natural areas.

Each of these segments presents unique challenges and highlights, making the Fimmvörðuháls Trail a comprehensive showcase of Iceland's natural wonders—from its dramatic waterfalls and rugged highlands to its picturesque valleys and volcanic landscapes.

Entering Thórsmörk

Detailed Guide to Planning Your Fimmvörðuháls Trail Hike

Best Time to Hike

Choosing the right time to hike the Fimmvörðuháls Trail is crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience. The optimal months for this hike are from late June to early September. During this period, the trail is mostly clear of snow, which reduces the risks associated with icy conditions.

The weather is also generally milder during these months, providing more comfortable hiking conditions and longer daylight hours, which are essential for completing the hike safely. Keep in mind that the weather in Iceland can still be unpredictable during these months, so it's vital to check the forecast frequently and be prepared for sudden changes.


The Fimmvörðuháls Trail can be tackled in different ways depending on your time, fitness level, and adventure spirit:

  • One-Day Hike: For those in good physical condition, completing the hike in one long day is possible. It requires an early start and good pacing to ensure you finish before dark. This option is popular among experienced hikers looking for a challenging day out.

  • Two-Day Hike: Many hikers prefer to split the hike over two days. This approach allows more time to enjoy the scenery and take breaks without rushing. You can stay overnight at the Baldvinsskáli hut, located roughly at the midpoint of the trail, or continue to Thórsmörk and camp there. Both locations offer basic amenities but require advance booking, especially during the peak summer months.

Hiking equipment

Gear and Preparation

Proper preparation is key to a successful hike on the Fimmvörðuháls Trail. Here's what you need to consider:

  • Clothing: The weather can change dramatically within a few hours. Pack multiple layers, including a waterproof and windproof jacket, to adapt to varying conditions. Avoid cotton as it retains moisture; opt for moisture-wicking fabrics instead.

  • Footwear: Good hiking boots are essential. They should have a sturdy sole for rough terrain and provide adequate ankle support. Make sure your boots are well broken-in before the hike to avoid blisters.

  • Navigation: A map and a GPS device are crucial for navigating the trail, especially in foggy conditions or if the path is less visible. The trail is marked, but weather conditions can obscure trail markers.

  • Trekking poles and microspikes: Trekking poles can significantly ease the strain on your knees during descents and provide stability on uneven surfaces. Microspikes are not usually necessary during the peak summer months but are highly recommended if you're hiking in late June or early September when you might encounter icy patches.

  • Additional gear: Also consider packing a headlamp (in case the hike takes longer than planned), a first-aid kit, sun protection, and enough food and water for the day. Water sources along the trail are limited, especially in the latter sections.

Thorsmork Highlights Hike

How to Get There and Back

Because Fimmvörðuháls is a point-to-point hike, logistics can be challenging. Most hikers arrange transportation back to their starting point or onward to their next destination. Options include:

  • Hiker’s Bus Passport: Offers round trips from Reykjavík to either end of the trail.

  • Private Transfers: More expensive but flexible.

  • Car Parking: You can park at Skógar and take a bus or taxi back from Thórsmörk.

The Fimmvörðuháls trail offers an unforgettable adventure through some of Iceland’s most dramatic landscapes. Preparation and respect for the trail's challenges are key to a safe and enjoyable experience. With the right planning and preparation, this hike can be a highlight of any visit to Iceland, providing not just a physical challenge but also a profound connection to the natural beauty of this unique island.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Fimmvörðuháls trail?

The Fimmvörðuháls trail is about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) long.

What is the famous trail in Iceland?

The Fimmvörðuháls trail is one of Iceland's most famous trails, especially known for its stunning landscapes and challenging terrain.

How long is the hike to Skogafoss waterfall?

The hike starts at the Skogafoss waterfall, which is at the very beginning of the trail.

How hard is it to hike in Iceland?

Hiking in Iceland can vary from moderate to challenging. The Fimmvörðuháls hike is considered challenging due to its length, elevation gain, and potential for sudden weather changes.



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